Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Another Major Change

change

On top of Grandfather Mountain; company picnic in 2013

This week marks a significant event in my life. Another major change in 2017. And yet…this time, the choice was mine to make…sort of.

I’m leaving my beloved job at 106.9 the Light (the radio station started by Billy Graham 55 years ago). I can’t tell you how difficult a decision this has been for me, but I really had no choice.

Considering I spent most of my spring sitting in a recliner with home health nurses coming in and out of my house every other day to treat my foot’s surgical wound…I had a lot of time to think and pray. I also had a lot of time to listen…something I don’t always do very well.

It was in the listening I sensed God telling me it’s time to leave. I honestly couldn’t believe He would ask me to leave the best job I’ve ever had with the most incredible co-workers you can imagine. But, He did.

When Joel and I met, we lived about 75 miles apart. As our relationship grew, we knew the time would come to talk about relocation should we marry. At the time, my daughter had three years left in high school, and I didn’t want her to have to move at such a pivotal time in her life. Joel agreed and made the decision to move to Asheville when we got married, but he kept his job at the hospital, as he had been there many years and loved where he was at. Even so, he was committed to commuting through Anna’s high school graduation and beyond, if needed.

We were also licensed foster parents and didn’t really want to move, as we loved our licensing worker and the children who were in and out of our home (especially the little guy we later adopted). But, God revealed to us it was time to move last fall, for Joel to finally be close to work again. And, we did. This time, the commute was mine for however long we felt led for me to keep it up.

Initially, it worked well. Joel took on the carpooling responsibility that had previously been mine, since I had more travel time now. I still got home about the same time that I used to, because the traffic time with the carpooling in Asheville was so much worse than where we are now. So, it really didn’t change our family time together. Then came February 12, 2017…when God called Joel home. That day changed everything.

The commute was no longer reasonable. I could no longer keep up with the demands of the job, my home, and my kids. Trying to get them to therapy appointments and sports was out of the question. We’ve pretty much just been existing. I know that’s not the way it’s supposed to be, and God made that clear to me. But, this is a major step of faith.

I don’t know how all the financial pieces will be met, but God does, and everything I have belongs to Him. I’m trusting Him to lead, and He’s been meeting every need (and then some!). I don’t know what’s next for me completely, but He’s been faithful in that area too, and I’m just walking through the doors He opens. For now…being mom to my littles is my number one priority. They’ve already lost one parent…they need their other parent more than ever.

The story is really more in-depth than what I’ve just written, but that’s the essence of it. This Friday will be my last day at work, and I’m really sad about it. My co-workers gave me a precious brunch this past Monday to reflect on this season that’s ending and to celebrate the new one that’s beginning. They all had the opportunity to share a few words with me, and I can tell you I’ve never felt as treasured by a group of people as I did in those moments. Their words encouraged me, challenged me, humbled me, and soothed my aching heart. (Words of affirmation happens to be #1 love language, so that doesn’t hurt.)

This major change will sting quite a bit for awhile, but like everything else we’ve been through this year…the pain from that initial sting will eventually soften a bit, and we know God is still amazingly good!

Friday, May 19, 2017

I Said Yes!

On this day, five years ago, I said YES…when my Prince Joel got down on one knee and asked me to be his bride!

We had taken a little drive to my favorite place in the whole world…the beach! I thought we were just going to relax on the sand, take in a few ocean views, and head home. Boy was I wrong! While we did all those things…Joel had so much more planned!

I laugh now, when I think about how fidgety he was early in the day. We were trying to find a place to eat lunch, and for some reason…we just couldn’t make a decision. At. All. Joel seemed all bent out of shape and not like himself. I kept asking if something was wrong, and he just kept saying, “Nothing is going like I planned!” Ha! Come to find out later…the ring was in his pocket, and each time he thought he had the perfect timing figured out to the pop the question…something would stop him.

The perfect timing came later…much later. We held hands that evening as we walked through the cool sand created by the night ocean air. The seaside breeze blew through my hair, and I could only imagine my version of Heaven would look something like this.

We laughed. We talked. I could tell Joel’s mood had relaxed immensely. All was well with my world in that moment. And then…he stopped. He turned and looked at me with those crystal blue eyes I could still see by moonlight. The words he spoke in that moment will forever be between Joel and me, but soon after he dropped to one knee, pulled out a beautiful diamond, and asked me to marry him.

My answer…well, you know what that was…of course, I would marry him! We both started crying happy tears and hugged until we couldn’t hug anymore. Was this really happening to me? God truly was redeeming the years the locusts had eaten as the prophet Joel spoke of so many years ago in God’s Word. How fitting the man soon to be husband was also named Joel!

My hopeless romantic man then got down into the sand and carved two hearts with this finger. One with the date we became engaged and one with the date we just agreed to be our wedding date (August 25, 2012). And…with that…my life was about to get very exciting!

 

If I knew then I would have less than five years with this incredible man and would go through gut-wrenching heartache upon his untimely passing, would I have still agreed to marry him? Undoubtedly YES! These nearly five years were some of the best of my life. We lived so much life together, and I went from a mom of one beautiful daughter to the mom/bonus mom of nine incredible kiddos. I wouldn’t trade any of that…even if it means my heart had to shatter into a million pieces. Love requires that sometimes.

Just ask God when He had to turn His own back on His son for the penalty of our sins to be paid.

#HeIsStillGood

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Just Trying to Grasp It All

Long before I became a widow for the first time, I advocated for orphans heavily. I’d have to say before I truly grasped the biblical mandate to care for orphans and widows (God defines it as pure religion), He had already impressed upon my heart the yearning and clear calling to be a voice for the least of the these. Now…granted…my voice tended to sway heavily in the area of the orphan crisis, because it was easier for my mind to grasp, and children, in general, seemed to be easier ones for whom to advocate. And then I became one…

A widow, that is. My previous view of a widow had been blown to smithereens…the eighty-year-something, married a long time, two to three children, white-headed, blessed life…type of widow. Yes…I, too, put my stereotypical vision of a widow in a shallow box. Now, those women inside that box are precious too, and God gives us that same biblical mandate to care for them, but I didn’t go seeking those opportunities like I did the ones for orphans. I’m ashamed to admit that now, but I think it was, in part, ignorance to the needs around me and also intentional avoidance. In my mind, I was at least doing something for “part of the equation”…I advocated orphans for heavily…didn’t that count for something?

That mindset of mine changed abruptly on May 4, 20111 when I became a widow…at 39 years of age. No longer did I meet that pre-conceived notion and vision in my head of what a widow looks like. NOW…James 1:27 became extremely real to me, as I was one part of that mandate. And…suddenly…I got it! I not only got it, but I was quick to ask the Lord to never let me forget what this feels like (in case I wasn’t always a widow). I prayed often for Him to reveal to me how it is He wants us to care for widows, and, thankfully, He surrounded me with a group of people from my church and the church-at-large who DID get it and cared for me deeply. Through their actions, they boldly lived out James 1:27.

And again…after God so graciously blessed me with a beautiful new marriage to another incredible man who also got “it”! The command and calling on our lives to care for the least of these, especially orphans and widows. And…most of you know the rest of that story…we added, through adoption, four more children to our already blended nest of five, creating an incredibly beautiful nest of nine.

And…just when I think God had us in a sweet spot…I not only “survived” my widow experience, but God brought some incredible beauty out of those dull ashes through the gift of remarriage and an expanded family…yours, mine, and ours. He gave the gift of family to four orphans through international adoption and domestic foster to adopt. And…he expanded our hearts to love even deeper outside of our neatly “perfect box” with the red bow on top. I couldn’t wait to see what God would do with this new love story…one that I promised to use to glorify Him first and foremost.

Barely into figuring out our new “roles” in this expanded and beautiful family, February 12, 2017 was ushered into our lives quite abruptly, and I became a widow for the SECOND time at the age of 45. And…this time…it was drastically different. As I was now a widow of recently orphaned children who suddenly felt fear again of being orphaned all over again.

How do I begin to explain this one to our children, and even to myself, if truth be told? All I know is I suddenly found myself back in those deep waters again. The same ones from where Jesus reached for me, rescued me, and restored my life in a beautiful way.

That Jesus of mine…He’s the SAME…yesterday, today, and forever! While I may not have all the answers, I know the God that does. And…it’s in Him, I put my full trust. It’s in Him, I cling to for my next breath. And…it’s in Him, I expect another miracle of a life restored one day…in His timing. Until I see it with my eyes, I continue to believe…. #HeIsStillGood

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. ~James 1:27 (NLT)

If you still feel led to tangibly help our family, click here for some suggestions on ways to do so. Or…just do whatever God lays on your heart to do. We are beyond grateful at how He continues to meet our daily needs!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Checking In…

Celebrating our 1-year wedding anniversary! God has given us many mountain-top experiences during this first year, as we've asked Him to lead us!

Celebrating our 1-year wedding anniversary! God has given us many mountain-top experiences during this first year!

Since the 40-day blog post run ended on August 2, I’ve been a bit blog quiet. I make no apologies (this time…ha!), as I’ve been enjoying having my girlie back from her month long mission trip to Uganda. We’ve also celebrated the 2nd birthday of our grandprincess. We said “goodbye for now” to our 17-year-old, as he headed back to Oklahoma to start school and to start practicing with a competitive basketball team. Our 16-year-old also just began her junior year of high school last week. And…most recently, my hubby and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary! It’s been a FULL and EXCITING couple of weeks!

I wanted to remind you that the widow / remarried widow survey is still available through this Saturday only (I may run it through Sunday, but that’s not a guarantee at this point). If you or someone you know would be willing to fill this out, I would oh so appreciate it. I’m using the responses received in the creation of a book proposal I’m crafting. These responses are definitely an integral part of the birthing of this book that God laid on my heart some time ago. The survey is certainly not perfect, not scientific, and I’m sure I could have worded some of the questions better, but it’s what I’m starting with, and it’s already been so extremely helpful, as I’ve begun reviewing the answers.

You can access the survey HERE. Be sure to share the link to this post with any of your friends that might be willing to participate. The more the merrier!

I’ll return to regular blog posting again right after this upcoming Labor Day Weekend! Can’t wait to continue to share my “Out of Deep Waters” life experiences with you!

Be blessed bloggy friends!

Anniversary2

Friday, June 28, 2013

Impossible to Forget

Image courtesy of www.flowersociety.org

Image courtesy of www.flowersociety.org

Just last week…in the neighboring town…a 19-year-old young man lost his life following a tragic drowning. When I first heard his name, I recognized it. He was a standout athlete from a local high school and graduated just a little over a year ago. Most everyone in the community that followed high school sports knew his name.

I found myself swept up into watching the news following Tre’s drowning. His body wasn’t recovered immediately, because the location where he drowned created a difficult recovery environment…cold, murky, deep water. Local dive teams had to alternate to safely keep up with the immense effort being used to bring Tre out of the water. As I watched the video footage…read the updates…my mind went back to him.

Diving was my late husband’s passion. Chris also volunteered for his local fire department and rescue squad for approximately fourteen years. I have no doubt that if he were still here, he would have offered his assistance in helping to recover Tre.

If only…

I often get asked the question (especially since I’m remarried and appear to most to have healed from Chris’ death quite completely)…do I simply put him out of my mind? Is it easy to just forget?

As a matter of fact, this very topic came up twice in conversations just last week. Yes…I am healed. Yes…I’ve been able to proactively move forward in my life, and with a new husband. Yes…I smile a whole lot more. Yes…I’m able to counsel others going through similar circumstances. But…it’s impossible to forget. As long as I have a mind that remembers, I’ll never forget. Sometimes, I remember the great times we had together…from all the silly moments to the fun adventures to laughing hysterically. But, there are other times, I remember the worst day of my life…the day Chris’ lifeless body was recovered. Unfortunately, I can’t forget that either.

And, while I say unfortunately, I also know there is a beauty in remembering even those details. The beauty comes when I hear of someone else experiencing a tragedy of equal proportions.

When little Emilee died of rocky mountain spotted fever earlier this month…I could pray for her grieving parents, knowing a hint of their pain.

When the man jumped off the bridge to end his life earlier this year…I could pray for his loved ones left behind, understanding a fragment of their pain.

When a sweet friend lost her husband to a sudden medical problem…I could pray in the hospital with her, feeling a bit of her pain.

While the easy way out would be to simply forget, I know it’s in the remembering God is most glorified. It’s in the remembering that I can comfort those with the same comfort that I’ve also received from Him (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). It’s in the remembering that I can rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). It’s in the remembering that I can see how very near God has been to me all the days of my life, from the tiniest of celebrations to the greatest times of pain (Hebrews 13:5).

God reached for me when I was in a pit. He rescued me from very deep waters, and He’s been restoring me ever since! And for that reason alone…I choose not to forget.